Good intentions make bad things worse

DEAR ANNIE:I am 55 and have been married to Jim, age 73, for five years. Jim's wife died six years before we met, and his two children became furious when he began dating, saying he was being unfaithful. They badgered Jim until he deeded them his house and property. Jim also gave each kid $250,000 in cash and paid off the mortgages on their homes.

The deeds specify that Jim can stay on the property as long as he lives, but make no provision for a surviving spouse. When we married, Jim asked the kids to allow me to continue to live there after he dies, but they refused. After that, whenever the kids asked for money, Jim told them it was time they lived within their means. (They have good jobs.) They became hostile and accused Jim of choosing me over them. They have not allowed him to see the grandchildren for three years. The only time they speak to him is to demand he divorce me.

Without telling Jim, I sent both his children a polite e-mail asking what it would take for us to be a family again. They told Jim about the letter, and he accused me of interfering in his relationship with his kids, saying it was none of my business and I have "ruined all possibility of reconciliation." I was shocked by his reaction, but apologized. However, Jim will not accept my apology. Was I out of line? What about his kids? Is there any hope for this family? — Tired of Drama

DEAR TIRED:Jim is worn down from fighting with his kids, defending his marriage and missing his grandchildren. Although your intentions were good, the e-mail was the straw that broke the camel's back. His selfish children used it as an excuse to attack him in force. Ask Jim to go with you for counseling to see whether your relationship can withstand the pressure. If he won't go, go without him.

DEAR ANNIE:My best friend is having an online affair. She feels it is only a minor form of cheating since they are not meeting in real life. Frankly, in my book, it's cheating all the way around.


I told her that if her husband asks me about it, I will not lie to him. But I am so uncomfortable with the situation that I no longer call her or visit their home. Even if she were to stop e-mailing this guy, I still would not lie to her husband if he asked why we've stopped speaking. Is this friendship a write-off? — Confused in California

DEAR CONFUSED:It certainly sounds like it. Your friend is behaving terribly, and we agree that you should not be a party to her lies. The most you can do is suggest she get into counseling with her husband so they can figure out why she is willing to risk her marriage for her online buddy. Otherwise, keep your distance.

DEAR ANNIE:I would like to respond to "V.W.," who has an autistic child and whose relatives don't understand how demanding it is. I have three children, one of whom has already been diagnosed with Asperger's and the other two are showing similar traits.

I found support through my child's school and the local county services. The county provides respite care, and the school has special classes where I have made friends with other parents. Also, I discovered and, where you can search for trustworthy sitters in your area, some of whom may have experience dealing with autistic children.

A starting point is asking the school nurse, school counselors or family doctors what services are available in your area. Support makes a big difference. — N.Y.

DEAR N.Y.:Thank you. Websites like the ones you listed provide child care, senior care, pet sitters, housekeeping services and even tutors. We appreciate the information.

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